If you saw Full Metal Jacket years ago, or you’ve only watched a few key scenes on YouTube, you probably love the movie. Or, you think you do, anyway.
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, it may come as some surprise that Full Metal Jacket is part of a sub-set of films that include an iconic first portion, followed by a middling or flawed remainder that nobody really remembers because oh my God that first part! Other examples might include Stripes or Superbad, not that those films are anything like FMJ. Nor are they part of the Warner Bros. 50 Film Collection.
The first 45 minutes of Full Metal Jacket is virtually an extended montage scene, save for two voiceovers by Private Joker (Matthew Modine), which provide some cover exposition to allow the audience to understand how much time has passed. Those 45 minutes are absolutely riveting, as Drill Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) whips young Marines into shape in preparation for the horrors of Vietnam.